WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today commended the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its decision to deny a petition calling for a ban on the manufacture, use and processing of lead in fishing gear.  On October 15, Harkin wrote to EPA expressing his concern that such a ban on lead in fishing gear would impose major changes and possibly business failure for fishing gear manufacturers.  He also raised concerns that it would require major changes for recreational sport anglers across the country.  Harkin asked EPA to thoroughly consider whether or not such a ban on the federal level was warranted.  A copy of that letter can be found here.  In 1995, Harkin introduced a bill in the Senate (S.505) to prohibit similar EPA action after EPA issued a proposed rule for a similar ban.

"In Iowa - and across the county - millions of anglers take to rivers, lakes and oceans to enjoy the great outdoors and spend time fishing; and thousands of locally owned small businesses rely on this industry for their livelihood.   I strongly believe that it is important that we do all we can to protect our environment and conserve our natural resources, but at this time there is not enough evidence to show that lead in fishing gear warrants a federal ban that would cause serious problems to the fishing supply industry and disruptions to the sport fishing community," said Harkin.  "I commend EPA on today's decision and especially on their recognition that the sport fishing community is already increasingly using non-lead fishing gear alternatives.  I look forward to continued collaboration with EPA on this, and other issues, that are so important to small businesses and recreationalists."

On August 3, 2010, the American Bird Conservancy and a number of other groups petitioned EPA under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act to "prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution in commerce of lead for shot, bullets, and fishing sinkers."  On August 27, the EPA denied the portion of the petition relating to ammunition because the agency doesn't have the legal authority to regulate ammunition.  In a letter today to the petitioners, EPA indicated that the petitioners had not demonstrated that the requested rule is necessary to protect against an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, as required by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  The letter further indicates that the increasing number of limitations on the use of lead fishing gear on some federal and state lands, as well as various education and outreach activities, call into question whether a national ban on lead in fishing gear would be the least burdensome, adequately protective approach to address the concern, as called for under TSCA.  EPA's letter also notes that the prevalence of non-lead alternatives in the marketplace continues to increase.  A copy of EPA's letter and more information can be found here: http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/chemtest/pubs/sect21.htm.

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